Doghouses vs. Crates

by Chris Miksen
    Doghouses offer an escape from the blistering sun, but they're not permanent homes.

    Doghouses offer an escape from the blistering sun, but they're not permanent homes.

    Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

    Doghouses and crates give your pal a place to slink inside and relax when he needs to get away for a bit. That's where the similarities between the two end. From size differences to upkeep and location to uses, the differences between doghouses and crates are aplenty. Ironically, a doghouse is less of a house than a crate is.

    Not that crates suddenly melt or immediately fall apart if they're exposed to the elements outdoors, but they're generally an inside-only doggy home. Metal crates do nothing to protect your pal from the sun, rain or snow, and they may rust, while nasty weather will destroy soft-sided crates. Plastic crates fare better, but doghouses are built specifically to withstand most everything the weather has to throw at them. The materials won't quickly break down, and a roof means your pup can chill out under some shade. But for all the protection they offer against the elements, they aren't indoor fixtures. They're large, awkward, don't break down for easy storage and generally serve no purpose that a crate won't serve better inside.

    A crate keeps your pup from being naughty and getting into trouble when you can't keep an eye on him, and it keep his little butt secure on car rides. A doghouse, on the other hand, stymies no behavior. Unlike crates, doghouses don't have a door, aside from a flap your pup can push open, so they don't prevent your pal from eating pine cones, swallowing rocks or engaging in other reckless doggy behavior. Plus, unless you're cruising down the road in a recreational vehicle, a doghouse probably isn't going to fit in your automobile. Note that while keeping your pup in his crate at night or when you're away from the house is perfectly acceptable, he should generally be allowed out when you're home so he can socialize and burn off excess energy.

    After your pup gets used to his crate, he'll probably think of it as his own little den to retreat into when the stresses of life get to be too much, when he's sleepy or when something frightens him. Doghouses can also serve as a den when your pup's tired or wants to get away from the commotion, but there's a catch: you should never leave your pup outside unattended or force him to live in his doghouse rather than in your home. If he wants to relax while you're gardening or sitting on your porch, fine -- but a doghouse is less a den and more a temporary getaway. Left unattended outdoors, your pup can get into all sorts of trouble, from eating poisonous plants to digging holes under the fence. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also notes that outside dogs turn independent and are difficult to train.

    Crates don't require much care. A bit of cleaning now and then, adding some bedding in the form of a dog bed, folded towels or blankets and keeping the crate stocked with some safe chews results in a spiffy and comfortable spot. A doghouse requires more work. If your pup spends more than one hour at a time outside during winter -- while you keep an eye on him -- the ASPCA suggests adding insulated bedding, hanging carpet strips over the doorway and shifting the doghouse so the wind doesn't howl at the opening. Although you should provide your pup with fresh water outside his doghouse, the Society warns against offering him food outside, explaining that it will attract unwanted guests, such as ants. Perform a few doggy-house inspections throughout the year to ensure bees and ants haven't set up shop inside your pup's home.

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    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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